In the news this week: a defunct Soviet-era weather satellite, Meteor 1-1 died a fiery death over Antarctica. The satellite was launched way back in 1969 and stayed in orbit more than 40 years. Fragments landed in Queen Maud Land, about 690 kilometers (430 miles) from Argentinian research station of Belgrano II. Let’s see what we can find out about Queen Maud Land from looking at page 5 of the Google results.
1. Zazenlife.com has an amazing story about an ancient map of the coast of Queen Maud Land, made in Constantinople in 1513, but according to its maker, Piri Reis, based on maps from a far earlier time. What’s strange about that? Well for one thing, Antarctica wasn’t “discovered” until 1818, over 300 years after the map was made. But wait! there’s more… The map presents Queen Maud Land with an ice-free coastline, and modern seismic studies show it is an accurate depiction. How long ago was that coast last ice free? In 4000BC!
2. Valter Schytt (not making this up) wrote of a combined Nowegian-British-Swedish expedition that left Tromsø, Norway in 1949 to set up a base camp in Queen Maud Land. Fifteen men planned to overwinter while studying glaciology, meteorology and geology. The account was published in the January, 1954 edition of Geographical review.
3.From Space mart a great image from the German Aerospace Center radar satellite of a huge iceberg calving off Queen Maud land in February 2010. Now enticingly named Iceberg a-62, it had an area of 120 square kilometers–about the size of the city of Bonn in Germany.
4. The Norwegian Polar Institute has a station called Troll (also not making this up) in Queen Maud Land. It has a 300 m long runway, the first to be built on pure ice, allowing planes with normal wheels to land.
5. Finally, Gore-Tex, the maker of waterproof membrane fabrics sponsored famed climber Mike Lubecki in “The Year of the Cock” expedition (still not making this up) to solo kite ski and climb mountains in Queen Maud land. He survived.